Treasure History With A Trunk

We all have a past with stories that should be treasured.  Both of my grandfather’s immigrated from Europe, using a steamer trunk to bring their belongings.  My paternal grandfather, John Schmitt, came over from Germany. My maternal grandfather, Frank Sabo, came over from Hungary.  Here are a few photos of their families in Europe.

When I visit my parents, I love looking at old family photos.  It’s fun to imagine their history. This might be why I love vintage steamer trunks!  When I see those trunks at estate sales, normally My Man says “No!”, but Saturday I found one I had to have!  For $10, I bought this vintage Leviathan steamer trunk.

My Man said “Let’s paint it!”  I looked online and found a couple of articles, including this one, that said the trunks have more resale value if you don’t paint them.  There are a number of sites to research the trunks, including this one.

After reading a bit more about vintage trunks, including this website, we took up the task of restoring it.  First, we needed to do a lot of clean up. We used a steel wool brush to scrub all the hardware clean of dirt and rust.

2016-05-30 11.59.18We scrapped the inside and then vacuumed out the dust and dirt.  When vacuuming, I also found the key to the lock under the paper!

Inside, I used cream spray paint and then flat black spray paint inside. I went light then dark so I would be able to see any spots I missed.

After that, we removed the legs and hardware from a mid-century bench to add to the trunk.  I spray-painted the legs flat black.

Prior to finishing the outside, we added the hardware and the legs to the bottom of the trunk.

We used Annie Sloan dark wax to “polish” the trunk, with the exception of the hardware. We used two coats to restore and refresh the color, making sure to buff each coat well.

2016-05-30 13.06.48Less than an hour later, we were done.  It’s this trunk gorgeous!?

2016-05-30 13.18.12




New to estate sales? I recently wrote a blog with tips on how to host and attend estate sales.


About UpCycling

daysunplanned View All →

Why Travel, Cooking and DIY? A creative type, I have always loved painting and decorating as a hobby. Upcycling is a real passion. My mom was a Home Ec teacher when we were growing up. I learned a lot from her and because I love hosting get-togethers, I had to step up my game in the kitchen as well. And lastly, my love of travel comes from my Grandma Schmitt.

An Illinois native, I worked in the White House Communications Agency early in my career (President Reagan), prior to returning to Illinois State University to finish my undergraduate and Master's. After a couple of post-graduate internships (minor league baseball and Big Ten Conference), I then worked in college athletics full-time for more than 22 years -- first at the University of South Carolina for 15 years and then at Santa Clara University for the last seven years. We moved to Tampa, Florida in Dec., 2016 after spending 8.5 years in Northern California.

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